Here's a quick look at what to expect in 2014 from the Top Ten teams in the final 2013 NSCAA Division I Women's Soccer poll.
The defending NCAA champion Bruins have a busy spring ahead with several players traveling for national team commitments, plus the team will head to Japan for a 10-day goodwill trip on March 20-30. Midfielders Sarah Killion and Sam Mewis are playing for the U.S. Women’s National Team in the 2014 Algarve Cup in Portugal on March 5-12, joining Virginia’s Morgan Brian as the only three collegians on the roster. UCLA lost five seniors but return its top five leading scorers from 2013, including rising sophomore Darien Jenkins (11 goals, 5 assists). Goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland is once again set to anchor a defense that posted 18 shutouts and an NCAA-leading 0.296 goals against average last season.
The NCAA runner-up has a couple of big holes to fill on the defensive side of the field as All-American defender Kassey Kallman and All-American GK Kelsey Wyswere are lost to graduation. FSU will be breaking in a brand-new keeper as Wys played every minute for the Seminoles last season, and redshirt freshman Cassie Miller is a likely replacement. FSU returns its top seven scorers from the 2013 squad, including senior Dagny Brynjarsdottir (14 goals, 5 assists). The Seminoles also added Vanderbilt transfer Cheyna Williams, who helped the Commodores to their best offensive production since 2000 with 37 points on 16 goals and five assists.
The Cavaliers will try to follow up on last year’s record-breaking College Cup season by fielding a squad that lost nine players, including six starters. Virginia does return some key players, including midfielder Morgan Brian, who was awarded the 2013 MAC Hermann Trophy winner after leading the Atlantic Coast Conference with 46 points. In addition to Brian, the Cavs welcome back four more of last year’s top six scorers highlighted by forward Makenzy Doniank, who paced the team with 20 goals and tied Brian with 46 points. In goal, Morgan Stearns will look to improve upon a stellar rookie season in which she posted nine shutouts and a 0.66 goals against average.
The Hokies said goodbye to seven seniors from the program’s first-ever Women’s College Cup squad, including leading scorer Jazmine Reeves (27 points) and goalkeeper Dayle Colpitts (11 shutouts). Virginia Tech does return three of its top five scorers led by ACC All-Freshman selection Murielle Tiernan (27 points) and Second Team All-ACC pick Ashley Meier (20 points). The Hokies are hoping a solid incoming freshman class will help the program remain a national contender. The highly recruited Alani Johnson, who netted 40 goals while sparking Cape Henry Collegiate School to the school’s first Virginia state title, will look to fill some big holes on the forward line.
The Tar Heels may have lost six starters from the 2013 squad, including Kealia Ohai, Crystal Dunn and goalkeeper Anna Sieloff, but Carolina has a track record of reloading despite significant losses. Dunn and Ohai were selected first and second, respectively, in the 2014 National Women's Soccer League Draft following a season in which they combined for half of the Tar Heels’ goals scored. Summer Green, who contributed 24 points last season, will look to step up offensively for the Tar Heels and has been starting for the U.S. U-20 National Team, which recently qualified for the 2014 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup. The Tar Heels’ next two top scorers of 2013 — Paige Neilsen (16 points) and Amber Munerlyn (8 points) – also return to help boost the offensive production.
Seven seniors have departed from a 2013 squad that advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals and tied a single-season record with 18 victories. But the Wolverines’ roster was not totally decimated as they have a promising group of current and incoming players. Goalkeeper Taylor Bucklin ranked fourth nationally in save percentage (.893) and fifth in goals against average (0.40) with 12 shutouts in her rookie season. Offensively, Michigan returns last year’s second-leading scorer Madisson Lewis, who contributed six goals and nine assists. UM will welcome nine incoming freshman in the fall, and head coach Greg Ryan expects that group to make an immediate impact and battle for those empty spots.
The Broncos lost nine seniors from a team that advanced to the NCAA Championship Round of 16, but the future looks bright as Santa Clara rebuilds this fall. While the nation’s second-best scoring offense (2.82 goals per game) will take a hit with the loss of Morgan Marlborough (15 goals, 6 assists) and Julie Johnston (12 goals, 8 assists), the squad’s top scorer last season Sophia Huerta (16 goals, 8 assists) returns to the pitch. According to head coach Jerry Smith, “We have plenty of players that want to step into leadership roles or starting roles so we're very excited about the team we have coming back. There are a lot of good players returning who were playing their best soccer at the end of the season and are only going to improve.”
The Aggies will look to defend their Southeastern Conference regular season and tournament titles with a very experienced squad that returns 18 letterwinners and 10 of 11 starters from last season. Texas A&M returnees account for 54 goals of last year’s 56-goal total. Forward Shea Groom led the team with 14 tallies last season and fine-tuned her game at the Six Nations Tournament in Spain as a member of the U.S. U-23 Women’s National Team this spring. The Aggies also welcome back two-time All-SEC goalkeeper Jordan Day, who posted six shutouts in 2013. The Aggies, who advanced to the Round of 16 in the NCAA Tournament for the 12th time in 2013, is sure to be a contender on the national scene once again next fall.
The Cardinal may have lost several talented seniors, but will have a veteran squad in 2014 with nine starters returning from last season. Offensively, Stanford returns forward Taylor Uhl, who led the team and Pac-12 with 12 goals in 2013, and forward ChiomaUbogagu, who accounted for two goals and seven assists. Goalkeeper Jane Campbell, who helped the U.S. U-20 National Team win the CONCACAF title in January, also returns after posting a 0.72 goals against average and .835 save percentage with six shutouts in her rookie campaign. In addition, the Cardinal signed a top-notch recruiting class headlined by Andi Sullivan, who captained the U.S. U-20 National Team to the CONCACAF title despite being the youngest player on the roster at 18 years old.
The Gators will have an experienced squad heading into 2014 as they only lost four seniors, all of who were non-starters. Forward Savannah Jordan, last year’s National Freshman of the Year, starred for the Gators as a freshman with 22 goals – the third-most in the nation. Midfielder Havana Solaun will be back for her senior year after contributing eight goals and nine assists to earn First Team All-SEC honors. Florida goalkeeper Taylor Burke will also return after posting a .543 goals against average – the lowest in the program’s 19-year history – along with nine shutouts.
Amy Farnum Patronis covers Division I Women's College Soccer for College Soccer News. She can be reached at email@example.com